Blackberries have long been a favorite wild fruit, as many species are native to several countries worldwide and are picked for personal or commercial use. Natural hybrids of wild species provided several of the first named cultivars including, for example, ‘Eldorado’ (Rubus allegheniensis × R. frondosus) introduced in the mid-1850s in the United States (Hall, 1990; Moore, 1984).
Blackberries are often classified according to their cane architecture into three types: erect, semierect, and trailing (Strik, 1992). Erect-caned cultivars include the thorny ‘Brazos’, ‘Tupy’, and ‘Cherokee’; and the thornless ‘Navaho’ and ‘Arapaho’. Semierect cultivars include ‘Chester Thornless’, ‘Thornfree’, ‘Loch Ness’, and ‘Čačanska Bestrna’. Trailing cultivars include ‘Marion’, ‘Silvan’, and ‘Thornless Evergreen’ and the blackberry-raspberry hybrids ‘Boysen’ and ‘Logan’. The new primocane-fruiting cultivars ‘Prime-Jan’ and ‘Prime-Jim’ (Univ. of Ark., Fayetteville) are erect, thorny types. Erect blackberries produce primocanes from buds at the base of floricanes at the crown or from buds on roots, whereas trailing and semierect types only produce new primocanes from buds on the crown. With the exception of the primocane-fruiting erect types, primocanes are vegetative the first year and fruit the second year on the entire length of the floricane.
In 1990, results of a survey conducted in North America reported 3180 ha of blackberries in the northwestern United States (Strik, 1992) and 1205 ha in the eastern United States (Clark, 1992), for a total of 4385 ha. In 1990, most of the blackberry production in the eastern United States was pick-your-own or prepicked for on-farm or local sales, and less than 2% was processed (Clark, 1992). In contrast, over 90% and 50% of the trailing blackberry crop in Oregon and California, respectively, was processed in 1990. Over 80% of the production from the 55 ha of erect and semierect blackberries in northwestern United States was marketed fresh in 1990 (Strik, 1992).
In the 1990s, blackberries were not found on grocery store shelves in the eastern United States and only rarely in the western United States (Clark, 2005). Late in the 1990s, ‘Chester Thornless’ became a major shipping blackberry, as it was found to have good fruit firmness. ‘Navaho’ was found to have excellent shelf life and could be shipped. These and other cultivars contributed to a major shift in the production outlook for shipping of blackberries from that of a local-marketed crop to one shipped for retail marketing (Clark, 2005).
In the mid- to late 1990s, shipping of blackberries from Chile, Guatemala, and Mexico into the United States provided fresh blackberries during the “off-season” autumn, winter, and spring months, increased consumer awareness of this berry crop, and consequently increased sales of U.S.-produced fruit in season also. Production of blackberries was apparently on the increase worldwide; however, there was relatively little factual information on area planted, cultivars grown, and most common production systems.
This review is based on a survey of worldwide blackberry production conducted in 2005. To our knowledge, no prior survey had been done on worldwide blackberry production; we were thus surprised at some of our findings, particularly the large area planted in Serbia and the high production in China. Included in the many questions asked in our survey were an estimate of area planted in 1995 and projections for 2015. We appreciate the contributions of the many research and extension colleagues and industry members who provided additional information (see Acknowledgments).
Bell, N., Strik, B.C. & Martin, L.W. 1995 Effect of date of primocane suppression on ‘Marion’ trailing blackberry. II. Cold hardiness J. Amer. Soc. Hort. Sci. 120 25 27
Cortell, J. & Strik, B.C. 1997 Effect of floricane number in ‘Marion’ trailing blackberry. I. Primocane growth and cold hardiness J. Amer. Soc. Hort. Sci. 122 604 610
Eleveld, B., Strik, B.C., Brown, K. & Lisec, B. 2001 Marion blackberry economics The costs of establishing and producing ‘Marion’ blackberries in the Willamette Valley Oregon State University Ext. Ser. Corvallis, Publ. EM 8773
Finn, C.E., Yorgey, B., Strik, B.C., Hall, H.K., Martin, R.R. & Qian, M.C. 2005 ‘Black Diamond’ trailing thornless blackberry HortScience 40 2175 2178
Strik, B., Clark, J.R., Finn, C. & Buller, G. 2007 Management of primocane-fruiting blackberry to maximize yield and extend the fruiting season Acta Hort in press.